Perfect Game Aside, Yankees Bats Have Gone Silent Without $360M MLBbro Aaron Judge | They Are Also Under .500 Without The Face Of Baseball
Aaron Judge is the New York Yankees, and the Bronx Bombers are feeling the loss of their captain.
The thrill of Domingo German throwing the 24th perfect game in MLB history and a rare 11-run explosion against the lowly, tanking Oakland A’s only temporarily softens the blow of losing the best slugger in baseball for an extended period of time.
Judge announced on Saturday that he has a torn ligament in his right big toe and is experiencing pain when he walks. He was placed on the injured list on June 6, but there remains no timetable for the reigning American League MVP’s return.
Manager Aaron Boone said Saturday he expects Judge to return this season but did not provide any guarantees.
“The reality is, we’re without him right now, and we’ve got to find a way to get it done,” Boone said. “We have the people in there to get it done. We just got to do a better job right now of putting pressure on the opposing pitchers and defense.”
Boone’s comments come during a woeful month for the Yanks as they rank 30th in the Majors in hits, average, on-base percentage, and OPS for June.
“We know we have a higher standard and expect more and know we’re going to be better, but we’re going through it right now a little bit,” Boone said. “Overall, this month, we’ve had a few guys that have gone through some struggles, but I wouldn’t call it frustration. I’d call it, like, this is get-to-work time, and how do we get guys going — and that’s on all of us.”
The Yankees are currently 14-17 without Judge this season and slashing .208/.268/.364 over that span.
“We’ve got to find different ways to win. We miss our captain. But, at the same time, we have to deal with the blow,” Isiah Kiner-Falefa said. “We definitely miss him. But at the same time, we believe in ourselves.”
Before suffering the toe injury while making a catch in the outfield of Dodger Stadium against a bullpen gate on June 3, Judge was hitting .291 with 19 homers and 40 RBIs in the first season of a $360 million, nine-year contract he agreed to during the offseason.
It was a disappointing start to the month after Judge had hit 12 homers in May and had already continued his hot stretch with a solo shot in the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Dodgers on June 3rd. Depending on how long the outfielder is on the IL could drastically affect his chase for back-to-back 60-homer seasons, which would make him the first ever to do so in the American League and first since Sammy Sosa in the Majors. But Judge’s competitiveness definitely has him focused on the win column and the playoff race rather than his personal stats.
The Yankees are third in the AL East (44-36), 9.5 games back from the Rays, who lead the Majors with 55 wins, and 5.0 games behind the second-place Orioles.
Nearing the All-Star break, the Yanks’ goal is to find a groove with the young squad they’ve been nurturing to hold on to the third seed until Judge can get healthy and rally the troops to make a push in the second half of the year.
“I’ve got to knock out the rehab stuff,” Judge said. “I’ve had different injuries over the years where it’s going to take a while. It’s not going to be perfect here in a couple of weeks. Once we can manage the pain, we’re going to be in a good spot.”
It is apparent the heavy load that losing one of the best players in the game does for a team, especially with a fanbase that doesn’t take losing lightly for any stretch. But Judge’s surrounding teammates won’t allow a lull to deter them, as there’s still more than half a season to play.
“If you ask anyone, we expect a lot of ourselves,” Anthony Volpe told MLB.com. “At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, because our expectations of ourselves, I think, are going to be higher than anyone can put on us. We’re not living up to that, and we know our potential. It’s obviously frustrating.
“I don’t think that discourages anyone; I think it motivates everyone.”
Right now, there’s nothing positive coming from Judge’s absence and with a ravenous New York media looking to point fingers and let out frustration, every player not named Judge is a target.